Avoiding a High Water Bill
To all of the new members of the Phoenix community, welcome! We’ve all heard it’s hot, but moving to The Valley can come with many surprise expenditures if you’re not prepared. What you may have not been expecting are added costs like higher water bills and extreme electric bills to run the A/C units that keep us alive. If you suspect that your water bill is higher than it should be but you’re new to the area and you’re not sure if it’s “normal”, then I recommend calling your city’s water company and asking them about the previous billing history during the same month- this will allow you to see if your usage is in alignment with the previous homeowner’s statements.
While it’s normal during our Phoenix summers to have higher water bills from trying to stop our plants from bursting into flames or filling our pools constantly, a noticeably higher charge than other summers could be an indicator that it’s time to check your plumbing for leaks- we want to find the source of the issue, fix the problem, and ultimately save you money!
Finding a leak on your system can be tricky and it can be any number or combination of a list of possibilities:
- Running toilets
- Water softener
- Irrigation leaks
- Pool fill line leaking
- Pool leaking and requiring more water
- A plumbing leak under the slab known as a “slab leak”
- Water service line leaking
- Reverse Osmosis system
- Dripping faucets
- Leaking shower valves
The list goes on and on…
Checking Your Meter
First, you’ll want to check if your meter is running in order to see if you’ve got a source of water being used that you’re unaware of. This won’t, however, indicate if something that is on a timer is leaking i.e. irrigation systems, water softeners, etc. Make sure that your family members are not using any water and that you don’t have any appliances turned on that use water like your washing machine and dishwasher. Your meter box is usually located out close to the street, either in your driveway or lawn. If you live in a city that doesn’t lock the meter box, then you’re in luck. Let me warn you though, creepy crawly things from the bowels of Hell like to hide in your meter box! It’s very common to find snakes, lizards, and all kinds of insects in here- you’ve been warned. Removing the meter box lid is usually a simple process of lifting it from the box using a flat head screwdriver to help get things started. Inside the meter box you’ll find your meter. These meters come in different model types depending on the age and the city you live in, but the top of each meter has a way to tell if it’s currently running. If you see numbers increasing on a digital screen or even a triangle or gear that is spinning, then those are signs that water is currently being used that shouldn’t be.
Checking to See If Your Water Service Line Is Leaking
Now, let’s check the condition of your water service line. Before you ask, yes, believe it or not, depending on the area you live in, you can lose hundreds of gallons of water without seeing a trace thanks to our rocky soil. Next, find the valve that shuts off the water to your house. It is usually located in the front of your house and has a hose bibb or outdoor faucet. This is also a popular place for your irrigation to get its water. Your valve to shut the water off will have either a lever or round handle. The lever handle is preferred and will only turn a ¼ rotation to shut the water off. If you have a round handle, then it will rotate clockwise to shut the water off. Turn with caution, though, these gate valves have a bad habit of breaking. Turn the valve off and look to see if the tee for your irrigation is above or below the valve. If it’s above the valve, then you have now isolated the water service line from your meter to your house. If it’s below, then you’ll want to shut the valve to the irrigation off as well- just follow the tee until you come to a valve and shut it off. Go back to the meter and see if there is still movement. Still seeing movement on your meter? Time to call Robins Plumbing!
Checking to See If Your Irrigation Is Leaking
Alright, so you’ve successfully verified that the water service line is not leaking. If the tee to your irrigation is before the valve, then you can check the irrigation at this point. Turn the irrigation back on and check the meter again. If there’s still no movement and you know how to turn on your irrigation zones to look for any major leaks, then now is a good time to do so! If you don’t know how, or the tee is after the main valve, it’s OK to leave it to the professionals.
Checking to See If an Inside Leak Is On The Hot or Cold Line
Assuming that everything has checked out so far, the next step is to see if you leak is on the hot or cold system. This is actually pretty easy. Leave the irrigation off and turn the main valve back on, and head to your water heater. You will see 2 water lines attached to your water heater. Look for the one on the right side and follow it towards the wall. There you should find another valve. Same as before, it may be a lever handle or a round handle and it will work the same way. Turn it off and let’s go check that meter again. Movement on the meter will indicate that it’s not on the hot system. Likewise, if the meter stopped, then we know the leak is on the hot system. Hot system leaks mean that you should check for dripping faucets or shower valves- no leaking faucets or shower valves means it is time to give us a call.
Cold Water Possibilities
You’ve eliminated the water service line, possibly the irrigation, and the hot water system. Now, let’s take a look at some other options. Our next question will be- do you have a pool with an auto fill? You can find a similar device that supplies water to your irrigation that will also supply water to your pool (usually in the backyard by the house). Turn the valve there off and check that meter again. No pool on your property? Another thing to check for leaks would be your toilets. You can lift the lids off the back and look for water that may be constantly running. Do you have an RO system at the sink? Open the cabinet under your kitchen sink and listen for a hissing sound. Furthermore, you should check all of your hose bibbs and make sure they are off all the way and not leaking. Perhaps you have a water softener that is stuck in a cleaning cycle- be mindful of all things that use up water.
At this point 1 of 2 things have happened: Either you have realized there is a lot to your plumbing system and you’re ready to give up, or you are a trooper and have thoroughly gone through everything in your home related to water and still haven’t found the source of that leak causing the meter to move. Either way, it’s no problem at all for our team at Robins Plumbing to come help you with your issue. Our team will happily hunt down that leak and consult with you about your options for repair, give us a call!